Dear Abby: I’m 14. Last summer I went to camp in a different state with my cousin “Mary.” I told my friends at school about our adventures, and a couple of them said they want to go there with me next summer.
Mary and I don’t get a lot of time together, and camp is one of the only times when I can see her. I don’t want my friends to come. How can I tell them that without hurting their feelings?
Dear Torn: Out-of-state summer camps can be expensive, and although your friends might want to come to yours, it remains to be seen if their families can afford to send them.
However, if it turns out that they will be going next summer, you should let them know beforehand that you may not be seeing a lot of them after you arrive because it’s the only time you get to spend with your cousin during the year. The chances of their being hurt will be less if you tell them in advance.
Dear Abby: My husband and I enjoy entertaining and having family over to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Our son’s birthday is approaching and I’d like to get your view of something my husband’s older sister, “Jane,” has been doing.
Jane is 55, divorced and has been dating her co-worker “Chuck” for a couple of years. At our celebrations, after everyone is done eating and cake has been served, Jane makes up a large plate of food (without asking) and invites her boyfriend over to eat.
Chuck shows up, stands at the kitchen counter and devours the food while complaining about it. Then he helps himself to more and leaves. He never says thank you, never participates in the celebration and, frankly, wasn’t invited to begin with.
How should this be handled at the next event? If I confront my sister-in-law, does that make me as rude as she is? My husband doesn’t want to rock the boat. However, it bothers him, and he, too, is put off by it. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.
In New England
Dear Aghast: What Jane has been doing is extremely presumptuous and to call her on it isn’t rude. This should not be “handled at the next event”; it should be handled before the next event.
Tell her you prefer any leftover food be saved for your own family, and that in the future, she should not invite Chuck unless she has first cleared it with you. If she can’t abide by your wishes, you should not invite her.
Dear Abby: I grew up like most children of the ’80s and ’90s, on fast food and propped in front of the TV. I have worked hard to change this lifestyle. I want to raise my future children in a healthier fashion than I was. However, when I bring up the subject of future grandchildren with my mother, she can’t stop talking about how she’s going to spoil them with sugary treats because she’s the grandma, and “that’s what grandmas do.”
She knows how I feel about this and knows it upsets me, but she keeps taunting me. I have gone so far as to tell her that if she can’t respect me, I will limit her time with the kids. What would you suggest I do?
Dear Health First: I don’t know when you plan to have children, but until you do, I suggest you drop the subject. Your mother may be saying this to get a rise out of you. If she’s serious, it will be your job as a parent to enforce the rules you set. But right now, this discussion is premature.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.